Pensions in Belgium

Find out how the Belgian pensions and taxation systems affect foreign residents. Information for those who have retired to Belgium and those retired from work in Belgium...

The department that oversees pensions in Belgium is the National Pensions Office (Office National des Pensions/Rijksdienst voor Pensioenen/Landespensionsamt, NPO).

  • National Pensions Office (in French, Dutch & German)
    At: Bureau des Conventions Internationales, Tour du Midi, 1060 Brussels

The local council (Commune/Gemeente) will handle all formalities on behalf of the retiring person.

Normal Pension Entitlements

In Belgium, the normal retirement ages are:

  • 65 years for men
  • 64 years for women

Note: The retirement age was 60 for women. However, this has gradually been increasing and by 2009 the retirement age for women will be 65 as well.

The calculation of any amount of pension is based upon the salary the person received over the period of time spent in Belgium and the number of years that the person has worked in Belgium. In addition:

  • Any unemployment benefits received are also taken into account when calculating the pension allowance
  • Time spent on university studies or military duty is considered as part of the standard 45-year career period

Minimum requirements

Everyone in Belgium is entitled to a state pension provided that they have worked at least 30 years out of a standard 45-year career period. The 30 years are not limited only to time spent as a Belgian resident; the pension calculation will take into account time spent in different countries, which will be calculated according to the regulations in that particular country and forwarded to the NPO.

Note: Early retirement is possible in Belgium from age 60 provided that the person can prove they have completed 35 or more years of work at that time.

Since 2004 there are no more specific formalities providing the person has reached the legal age.

Conventions and Treaties

Belgium has a convention for pensions with all EU member states as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Belgium also has bilateral treaties for pensions with Algeria, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Philippines, Republic of Congo, Croatia, USA, Israel, Morocco, San Marino, Tunisia and Turkey.

Pension applicants living in Belgium

Workers in Belgium applying for a Belgian pension who have also worked in other EU Member States or countries that Belgium has had bilateral treaties with during their career can still apply through the local council or the NPO.

The council or NPO will then contact the relevant pensions authorities in the country(s) in question to claim the part of the pension that is attributable to the time the claimant spent in that country. Ultimately the person will be entitled to receive a Belgian pension but it will be part-financed by the pension authorities in the other country(s) the person has worked in.

Pension applicants living in other EEA countries or Switzerland

Those resident in another country of the EEA (EU Member States and European Free Trade Association Economic Area countries) or Switzerland who are applying for a pension need to contact the relevant pension authorities in that country. If the foreign organisation in question acknowledges that the applicant has worked in Belgium as a wage earner, it will notify the NPO that the application has been made.

An exception to this is if there is no question of pension coverage in the country of residence. In that case you are entitled to apply to the organisation where pensionable service last occurred. For instance, a person living in Spain who had never been covered by the Spanish social security system, but who had worked as a wage earner in France and Belgium would be entitled to request a Belgian and French pension if the Spanish organisation was not willing to accept their application. In this case the request should be forwarded directly via a registered letter addressed to the NPO.

If a bilateral agreement applies as well, it is also possible to make a request for a pension via a registered letter sent to the NPO.

Pension applicants who do not live in Belgium, EEA countries or in Switzerland

If European regulations apply, the Belgian pension applicant should notify the relevant pensions authorities in the EEA country where they were last covered by a pension scheme. Those authorities will in turn notify the NPO.

If a bilateral agreement applies, the Belgian pension applicant should submit the pension application to the relevant organisation in the country of residence. Those authorities will in turn notify the NPO.

Other pension applicants

All other applicants not already mentioned should contact the NPO in Belgium by registered mail.

Note: as there are many exceptions and options for specific situations, people are advised to contact a pensions adviser for further information about their individual case.

Prepared by Steve Tuson, International Financial Consultant, Wealth Management Solutions Europe, Montpelier Europe SPRL Boulevard de la Cambre 33, 1000 Brussels Tel: 02 626 1660, Fax: 02 644 6330, www.montpeliergroup.com